If the house is the last bastion of privacy, if its walls are the final defense against the prying eyes of the outside world, then Nadya Suleman may not have much privacy left.
Video from inside Suleman's home--serving dinner, playing with her children--appeared on NBC's Dateline as part of Ann Curry's report on her first-ever interview with the mother of octuplets. The table was neat, the living room tidy--nothing like the more lived-in glimpses of the Whittier house now available for viewing on the website.www.RadarOnline.com
RadarOnline's video shows floors cluttered with piles of clothing and toys. There are unscrubbed scribbles on a door and walls, and what appears to be the return air vent for the heating system has tape all around it, evidently to hold it to the wall.
RadarOnline characterizes its video as "shocking."
But is it really?
The grandparents' three bedroom home in fewer than 1,600 square feet is home to six children under the age of eight. Does anyone really expect there to be no unpicked up clutter in a house with six kids? Three kids? One crayon-toting toddler?
No, the glimpse inside the Suleman home shows about what you'd expect to see in the homes of any number of families not in the media's bullseye. But as the 33-year-old single mother herself has acknowledged to TV psychologist Phil McGraw and others in her growing list of media interviews, she realizes the house as is is not adequate to accommodate the octuplets who will soon be mature enough to be leaving the hospital.
"If I am unable to rent somewhere else, and that is a goal," Suleman told Dr. Phil during the interview broadcast Wednesday, "then we're going to fix up and change the house...alter it so that it 's safe for these babies." Suleman said this would be done with the help of volunteers she admitted have yet to be signed up, much less organized.
Dr. Phil's take on Suleman's situation returned repeatedly to his perception that she fails to recognize that her plans to care for her brood are unrealistic. McGaw said Suleman herself told him that she's gotten the impression she may not be allowed to take the octuplets home when they are healthy enough to be released from Kaiser-Permanente Bellflower.
The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services has the power to intervene, but notes privacy guarantees in declining to discuss a specific family or confirm or deny if an investigation is under way.
Adding to the pressure on the octuplets' mother: her lack of income, apart from public assistance, and the threat of the Suleman family losing its current home to foreclosure as soon as May.
Meantime, RadarOnline sat down Nadya Suleman next to Angela long enough for the now obviously frustrated grandmother of 14 to lament, "How are you going to provide for them? What are you thinking?"
And as if there were not already enough fodder for the backlash, Suleman's father Ed Doud told Oprah Winfrey, "I beg people not to punish someone who is mentally--uh--not complete."
If it was a play for sympathy for Nadya, that is a rare commodity among those who point out that she did not have to choose to be implanted again with embryos from in vitro fertilization.
That said, 14 children are still in need of care, while their mother has put herself in the unenviable position of having to try prepare to handle an unprecedented situation under the unblinking gaze and second-guessing of a worldful of media.
Even porn producers.
Seeing opportunity, Vivid Entertainment's Steven Hirsch made the unsolicited offer to pay Suleman a million bucks to help cover her burgeoning household expenses. All she has to do is star in a porno flick.
Another porn outfit jumped in with a counter-offer: It would provide Suleman a year's worth of diapers if she does not make a porno.
In the media glare, the saga of the octuplets family has become a spectacle with all the subtlety of a morality play.
Self-inflicted or not, the pressure on Suleman only keeps growing as the clock ticks closer to the time she must be ready to make sure all 14 of her children can receive proper care--or be relegated to a spectator role as the County Department of Children and Family Services takes over the responsibility.